Was Danny Gans losing his hearing? Did the musical impressionist's reliance on powerful pain medication lead him to partial deafness, on the same road taken by conservative strongman Rush Limbaugh?
The story that Danny Gans had been reaching out to numerous doctors and specialists in the Las Vegas area because his longstanding use of pain medications was causing him to lose his hearing is one of the saddest and most tragic elements in the untimely death of this great, unique entertainer on May 1st.
"What could be worse for an impersonator than to not hear voices well?" asks one reporter who is working on other stories his editor deems far more important. "I don't have a doctor's name or know if he ever saw a specialist or if this is just more of the surrounding buzz. I just have gossip."
"The story's out there. A lot of stories are out there," says another source.
Limbaugh, the talk radio host, underwent cocchlear implant surgery in 2002 to correct unexplained deafness that some have related to his illegal abuse of painkillers like Oxycontin (studies have shown that "rapid hearing loss, even deafness, in some patients who are misusing drugs" like Vicodin and Oxycontin).
It's not known if Danny Gans had Oxycontin, known as the "hillbilly heroin," in his system when he died. Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy would not what, if any, other drugs or alcohol were involved in the 52-year-old Gans' death beyond hydromorphone, known commercially as Dilaudid, and on the streets as "drug store heroin."
The deafness lead is one of many that are swirling through Clark County, and that we are pointing out to the paid Las Vegas reporters who are either trying to justify the budgets of their television news departments, or save their unwieldy backward-thinking newspapers from folding completely.
Many of these same journalists had intimated that they were waiting respectfully and responsibly for weeks until the coroner issued the toxicology report with the cause of Gans' death.
As it turns out, Mike Murphy's controversial "toxic reaction" gobbledygook was not the starting gun for a hungry group of journos eager to get to work as soon as the official work confirmed what they already knew, but, sadly, an excuse to close the lid on a Pandora's Box of citywide scandal.
In the hours following the announcement, local editors allowed reporters and columnists to vent their frustration in their coverage, but the lack of strong reportage in response to obvious questions, combined with the tidbits they've dropped but not followed up on, have led to a vacuum that's far more expansive than the one created by their malfeasance in the weeks following Gans' death on May 1st.
To that end, we've been seeking an interview with Steve Friess (right), the local comp queen and freelance writer who often covers Las Vegas for the New York Times and who attacked us for asking questions about Gans' death in the days following the tragic and shocking event. Friess has gone to the mattresses in the days since the coroner's report confirmed what we had reported-- and what we had revealed exclusively was common knowledge in the Las Vegas Review-Journal newsroom. After writing a cursory item for the Times, he's run away from the story he helped try to cover up.
Steve Friess has blocked our email access to his website, so we were forced to reach out through his censored comments section. He responded to our request this afternoon, but ignored the topic at hand:
"Hey. I just saw your latest attempt to appear on my blog. I actually DID think you had gone away. Didn't see you at the press conference and nobody's told me to look at your site in a while, so I figured you had dropped the matter finally.
"Good luck to you and thanks for a wild ride.
Odder than Friess' expectation that the "wild ride" is over, is his claim to have thought we'd "gone away," as he's been posting anonymous comments to our Gans items, most along the lines of this one--
"This source is obviously invented. It fits to neatly with your crackpot theories-- it's too perfect. And Steve wynn would never call the paper over this. That's conspiracy theory fantasy silliness. In the real world of journalism, such a call would become the news. Nice try hoping to be relevant!"
-- claims that our sources are not real and that our staff is writing any post comments that are not negative.
One such comment stands out this evening. "Jody in LA" responds to our post, and to a fellow commenter who'd claimed her earlier comment had been written by a "loser" Tabloid Baby staffer:
"Hey Loser, I guess you've never used the Google news function.
Fact is that I did find this site via Google. A few weeks ago I entered Danny Gans and hit the "news" function on the upper left hand corner. That pulls up the latest stories, blogs etc on the internet.
And I'm guessing due to the lack of coverage on this story (in other words, MSM in Vegas dropping the ball), this site must have come up pretty high for me to have found it.
What is really strange is the lightweight articles, even after the coroner's report. Hell, the coroner's report is odd. Adverse reaction? I guess that's one way to describe an OD. Sounds like it's tailored made for a big insurance claim. And dilaudid for chronic pain? I asked a friend of mine who is a Pharmacy Tech and he said that they almost never see scripts for it. In CA it requires a special prescription form in triplicate to get it. He said it is EXTREMELY strong - way more than vicodin or oxycodone, which are usually prescribed for serious chronic pain.
Then the doctor's statements about a 5 year old script and his searching of the NV and CA prescription database and findings of no script within 3 years - and he spills his guts about all this to the newspaper? Hello HIPPA?
Everything about this death and the coverage (or should I say coverup) is strange - very strange. We're supposed to believe that a multi-millionaire health fanatic - who wouldn't eat a spoon of yogurt or an egg 2 days past their expiration date - randomly took a 5 year old expired narcotic, that he just happened to keep on hand all these years in the medicine cabinet, and dropped dead.
All that's missing from this story is a clown car."
And that is from a civilian.